CASA Pitzer Program
GENERAL: Critical Action & Social Advocacy (CASA) Pitzer advances critical analysis, action and advocacy on the most pressing issues in the Inland Empire. As an academic program and community hub, CASA Pitzer brings local residents, organizers, activists, artists, educational institutions and nonprofits together with members of The Claremont Colleges to build community and enact change. The CASA Pitzer academic program engages students, staff, faculty and community partners in collaborative projects and community-based participatory research on regional equity and justice pertaining to issues of incarceration, immigration, education, environment, labor, art, culture and health.
NAME CHANGE: For almost 20 years, the Pitzer In Ontario Program was known as PIO. Since moving out of the PIO house, previously located on H Street in the city of Ontario, the program has been operating out of a historic building in downtown Ontario that houses the academic program and community partners. After two years of operation and community input, the program, including the new space in which the program operates, was renamed: Critical Action and Social Advocacy (CASA) Pitzer.
PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS: Students must take the 2 core CASA courses simultaneously:
- CASA 101 PZ -Critical Community Studies
- CASA 105 PZ -Research Methods for Community Change
Due to the intensive internships, fieldtrips and writing components of this program, students earn three credits for the two courses. These two courses must be taken together and the program is limited to a cohort of 13 students.
ONT 101: Critical Community Studies course description
This course explores current movements, theories and narratives centered around critical issues in our local communities as well as focuses on theories and approaches to social service and social change and the tensions between them. The course will apply theory to practice through interdisciplinary scholarship, in-class dialogues, critical reflection and analysis, experiential learning, and direct engagement with local change-making organizations and movements. The course’s theoretical frameworks are grounded in a cross section of disciplines, including contributions from cultural studies, critical education theory, psychology, sociology and anthropology. Course praxis (theory + action +critical reflection) will play out in large part through the program’s intensive practicum, class fieldtrips and workshops that exemplify that which we study. Through this course, students will engage in hands-on applications of community-based education and become aware of local knowledge, assets, and approaches to social change.
ONT 105: Research Methods for Community Change course description
Research Methods for Community Change is an introduction to diverse approaches to qualitative inquiry, from ethnography to participatory action and project-based research. Our course combines a classic “toolkit” approach to qualitative methods with the praxis of community-building and social change. We examine current debates, ethical dilemmas, and theoretical approaches to research in community settings. A distinctive and vital component of ONT105 is the intensive research internship and community immersion experience-a 125-hour commitment over the course of the semester. Students are partnered with grassroots organizations working to address issues that directly affect communities in the Inland Empire. Internship topics include immigration, education, incarceration, environmental justice, community health, and labor rights. In collaboration with a partner organization, students design and complete project- and community-based action research and share these as part of the culminating course assignment.
INCLUDED INTERNSHIP: Students are required to complete a 125-hour internship with one of our core eight community partner organizations to produce rigorous community-based research or praxis, and to integrate classroom theory into practice through change-oriented work.
MAJORS CREDITED: CASA is designed for sophomores and juniors (though others may petition entrance) and it satisfies requirements in the following majors:
- Environmental Analysis
- Organizational Studies
- International Intercultural Studies
- American Studies
LAUNCHING PAD/LANDING PAD: The CASA Pitzer Program is an important developmental experience that benefits both students returning from or going on study abroad. Taking the program before studying abroad gives students solid grounding in ethics, critical inquiry, and methods that facilitates directed independent study projects. Returning students bring skills gained during the semester away and apply them to local issues, easing back into Pitzer life in a non-traditional, experiential setting. Students who do both CASA Pitzer and Study Abroad programs may be well positioned to write a Local/Global senior thesis, which takes a multi-sited approach to a topic of interest. CASA Pitzer also provides exceptional work and real world experience with a 125 hour internship component, where you will be placed with a local Inland Empire non-profit. This allows Claremont Colleges students to build their resumes while applying theory to practice.
LOCATION: CASA Pitzer | 200 S. Euclid Avenue, Suite B | Ontario, CA 91762 |
CONTACT: CASA Pitzer Faculty Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Critical Action & Social Advocacy (CASA, formerly known as Pitzer in Ontario)
Critical Action & Social Advocacy (CASA, formerly known as Pitzer in Ontario) is a justice-oriented, interdisciplinary, community engagement and cultural immersion program focused on community-based research. With theoretical foundations in the social sciences and a strong emphasis on experiential education, the program engages theories, strategies and research praxis tools for social change and community-building. These efforts are informed by long-standing relationships with community organizations, city agencies, and non-profits in order to identify and address pressing community issues. The CASA Pitzer academic program engages students, staff, faculty and community partners in collaborative projects and community-based participatory research on regional equity and justice pertaining to issues of incarceration, immigration, education, environment, labor, art, culture and health.
Current Projects. In-depth and longitudinal community partnerships and projects include community gardening, health and food justice education and advocacy (Huerta del Valle and Salud Mental), labor organizing (Warehouse Workers Resource Center), immigrant justice and youth organizing (Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice and Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition), critical mentoring and education (Youth Mentoring Action Network), support for local arts and artists (Arts Area), and criminal justice advocacy and transitional housing (Starting Over, Inc. and All of Us or None).
CASA Pitzer. All classes and many of the internships are held at CASA Pitzer, our storefront community hub that houses many of our partner organizations, hosts many community events and trainings, and is equipped as a community-based smart classroom. CASA is located six miles from the Pitzer campus at 200 S. Euclid, Suite B. Transportation is provided.
Requirements. Students must take the two core CASA courses simultaneously: CASA 101 PZ -Critical Community Studies and CASA 105 PZ -Research Methods for Community Change. As part of these classes, we require a 125-hour internship to be completed over the course of the semester along with an associated 20-25-page research paper, among other assignments. Due to the intensive internships, fieldtrips and writing components of this program, students earn three credits for these two courses. These two courses must be taken together and the program is limited to a cohort of 13 students. Students may elect to take a companion CASA class such as ONT 101, Healing Arts and Social Change or ONT 170, Radical Research and Social Partnerships. We ask that students minimize additional extracurricular activities or taking an overload of courses during the semester so as to facilitate the immersive aspects of the internship and the academic demands of the program. We provide opportunities for Spanish immersion but knowledge of Spanish is not a requirement of most internships. First years are not allowed to take the program, but we encourage sophomores, juniors, and seniors to enroll. There is no application process. Enrollment is by permission only, so you must meet with CASA staff before pre-registration, utilizing the PERM registration tool. Please feel free to contact Faculty Director Tessa Hicks Peterson for details.
Major Credit. CASA Program core courses count toward majors in Sociology, Environmental Analysis, Organizational Studies, American Studies, and International/Intercultural Studies. Please discuss your decision to take the CASA Program with both CASA staff and your major advisor before enrolling.
Educational Objectives. CASA Program core courses fulfill the Intercultural Understanding-Domestic educational objective as well as the Social Justice Theory and Social Responsibility Praxis educational objectives.
Launching Pad/Landing Pad. The CASA Program is a fantastic way to prepare for, or return from, study abroad. Taking the program before studying abroad gives students solid grounding in ethics, critical inquiry, and methods that facilitates directed independent study projects. Returning students bring skills gained during the semester away and apply them to local issues, easing back into Pitzer life in a non-traditional, experiential setting. Students who do both CASA and Study Abroad programs usually have a solid base of knowledge and research to draw on, making them well positioned to write a Local/Global senior thesis, which takes a multi-sited approach to a topic of interest.
- CASA 101 PZ -Critical Community Studies
- CASA 105 PZ -Research Methods for Community Change